It was all going dark for the Caterham F1 team, as they declared bankruptcy ahead of the U.S GP and missed out of two races. Caterham was looking for a potential investor, but that required them to finish the season, by racing in Abu Dhabi GP, and that required funds, which they lacked, obviously. To tackle the situation, the team launched a crowd-funding campaign, and now it seems, they have succeeded.
The team has been deep trouble throughout the 2014 season and have changed ownership, as much time as it has changed tyres. The team started the 2014 championship under the direction of founder Tony Fernandes, only to be taken over by a consortium formed by former F1 driver Christijan Albers. Within few weeks Albers was ousted by the former HRT chief Manfredi Ravetto, only to be thrown out again, this time by a team of bankruptcy administrators.
It was these bankers who launched the fundraising effort on the Crowdcube.com, raising over $3 million in just a few days, 19% short of $3.7 million requirement. But that was enough to put the car back on the grid, way ahead of the race this Sunday. Although this is a good news, Caterham has broke bad news too. Despite the fundraising success, the team had to lay off some 230 members of its workforce, reducing the team to only 40 personnel, enough to run the race in Abu Dhabi.
The interesting part though is, that the employees themselves asked to let them go, as they were not paid for months. This will help them begin the month-long process of claiming back pay as part of the bankruptcy process. Finbarr O'Connell, bankruptcy administrator, Caterham says that "only 17 of Caterham's 230 employees did not ask to be made redundant in the apparent hope that the team could still be saved in the long term – in which case many, if not all, of the laid-off workers would hopefully be re-hired."
As if the financial health and the employee problem was not enough, Caterham is also struggling with another matter. Who will drive the cars, is the big question for them? Kamui Kobayashi, the regular Caterham driver is confirmed to be one of the drivers, but the second one is not confirmed yet. Marcus Ericsson, the other driver of Caterham, after signing with Sauber for the next season, has severed ties with Caterham.
The right of first refusal, if either of Ericsson or Kobayashi aren't driving, lies with Roberto Merhi, as he claims. But the Spanish test driver may be in a problem, as the team has reportedly approached three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer, who also drove for the team earlier this season at the Spa. Some rumors are also suggesting, the well-financed Max Chilton, as the driver for the team.
There are surely lots of contenders for the seat of a team, which itself is struggling with loads of issues, lately. But, whatever may be the decision of the management, we will have to wait till the weekend, to know the exact outcome.